2017 Interns Gained Invaluable Experience


In the summer of 2017, Business+Impact had a number of internship opportunities with a broad spectrum of organizations.  Students from Ross, Ford, School of Social Work, Natural Resources, and other programs developed their skills while helping mission-driven organizations in Detroit and around the world.

The Center’s Impact Corps internships placed MBAs and BBAs with global organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund and Ashoka, as well as with social enterprises like LegWorks and Torrent Consulting.  Our Summer Fund helped place Masters and BBA students with government and impact organizations across the country, with funding from the Center for Social Impact and the student-run Give-A-Day Fund. Our co-sponsored Ross Open Road sent eight Ross students to seven U.S. states and nine organizations over the month of May.  Additionally, our Change Agents internship program had BBAs engage in week of intense orientation followed by 9 weeks of work with a regional impact organization.

Internships are an important part of the work that Business+Impact does.  Students who engage in internships are consistently amazed at the passion and purpose of the impact organizations with which they partner.  Students are challenged to apply business learning to ambiguous organizational challenges.  It requires a level of flexibility and insight to be successful.

Below, we share snapshots of some of their experiences, providing a window into the broad experiences that Business+Impact offers:

Zach Friedman, MBA/MS ’19

  • Type of Internship: Ross Open Road

  • Organizations: Merit Goodness, Vice District Brewing, Wild Idea Buffalo Company, Fargo Brewing Company, The Golden Yoke

  • Location: Detroit, MI; Chicago, IL; Rapid City, ND; Fargo, ND; St. Ignatius, MT

  • Project: Variety of projects for social entrepreneurs

My Experience: “What has connected all of our partners is a passion to serve their communities, be it underserved youth in Detroit, South Loop residents of Chicago or the Great Plains ecosystem of South Dakota. An entrepreneur’s social impact isn’t determined by the scale of his or her community, but how they serve its needs. “

Andrew Hatfield, MBA ’18

  • Type of Internship: Impact Corps Internship

  • Organization: Torrent Consulting

  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI

  • Project: Launch a social enterprise rotational program/incubator within Torrent

My Experience: “Torrent Consulting sets aside 10% of its profits to fund & launch social entrepreneurs. My job was to research social entrepreneurship and apply structure and rigor to the process to ensure replicable success. We succeeded in creating a model that would not only keep Torrent profitable, but would also organically grow the fund with each new entrepreneur. With that goal in mind, the actionable results/deliverables from this internship are a major win.  No matter where I land, this offers me greater credibility as I try to connect the best lessons from the business world with the best intentions of the humanitarian community.”

Colleen Hill, MBA ’18

  • Type of Internship: Summer Fund/Give-A-Day Fund

  • Organization: Room to Read

  • Location: San Francisco, CA

  • Project: Data analysis on budget trends, delays and strategy for nine countries in which the organization operates

My Experience: “The funding I received from the Give A Day Fund was incredibly helpful. Living in the Bay Area with an unpaid internship is impossible, and the support I received from Business+Impact made my summer a little easier. My internship with Room to Read has allowed me to understand the operations of a well-established and well-organized nonprofit.  (My advice:) There are a lot of opportunities out there that you may not yet be aware of, so learn about some that sound interesting, while sticking to your core career goals.”

Kevin Howard, BBA ’19

  • Type of Internship: Change Agents

  • Organization: Neutral Zone

  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI

  • Project: B-Side Website, YOR Website, CR course, Revenue Analysis

My Experience: “I was surprised at how different it is to work with nonprofits as opposed to the business school. The environment is much more laid back but everyone has the same goal in mind. I think my biggest takeaway is learning how to succeed in a mission-driven organization where everyone has the same goal for the community. This is a great program and a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and business. Take it if you have the chance!”

Kaushik Moro, MBA

  • Type of Internship: Impact Corps Internship

  • Organization: LegWorks

  • Location: San Francisco, CA

  • Project: Prepare materials for raising a Series A in the third quarter of 2017

My Experience: “Working at a startup can be hard work but seeing the impact of LegWorks’s products in the developing world was a powerful motivator for entire team and me. My internship exposed me to the venture capital industry and has motivated to explore a career in the impact investing space long term.  (When working,) understand what matters most to you and see if you identify with the company’s core mission. This will help you when working with passionate and driven people at these organizations.”

Manasvini Rao, BBA ’19

  • Type of Internship: Change Agents

  • Organization: Neutral Zone

  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI

  • Project: B-Side Website, YOR Website, CR course, Revenue Analysis

My Experience: “My greatest takeaway from this summer would probably be that consulting for nonprofits can be ambiguous at times but it’s also incredibly rewarding because you’re working with people with such big hearts who really care about the issues they’re facing. Business+Impact was great in letting us do all of this without having to worry about any financial issues, and was always there if we had any questions to ask about the internship process.”

For a complete listing of interns and their internships for 2017 and several years before, click here.

For information on receiving your own student internship, click here.

Four Things U-M MBAs Learned about Social Entrepreneurs during Ross Open Road

by Glenn Bugala, Center for Social Impact

AUGUST 4, 2017, Ann Arbor, MI – Three teams of Ross Open Road MBAs spent five weeks this May helping 14 social entrepreneurs across the U.S. with the business challenges they face. The program, in it’s second year, is showing steadily increasing popularity at Ross, going from two teams to three this year. This student-run program is co-sponsored by the Center for Social Impact and the Zell Lurie Institute, with transportation provided by General Motors. The program is designed to “give small business owners extra hands in solving complex challenges, and to help students gain real experience understanding the various issues social ventures face.”

Three teams (named OKRA, RAZA and WCKD) began their journeys locally, in Detroit on April 30th. On any given week, each team would arrive on a Sunday, spend the week discussing social entrepreneur’s current needs, and by Friday, they would be presenting a business solution that was practical and usable. As members of team OKRA said, “This experience forced us to take a year’s worth of academic theory and put it into practice and gave us a forum to get to know each other at a deeper level.” From a young ice cream company to 100-year-old salt mine, the work is fast-moving and direct.

  1. How Can You Measure the Impact?

The students involved in Ross Open Road 2017 said that a major discovery from the experience was learning that social impact can occur at virtually any point in the life cycle of a business—from the sourcing of materials to the hiring of staff to the customer base to the impact on the community. One company that forced the students to re-examine what a social enterprise business model can look like is Merit Goodness, headed by David Merritt in Detroit. Similar to Newman’s Own, David established his clothing company to donate 20% of its profits to a high school mentorship program called Fate. Merritt says, “Merit is not a clothing brand on its own. I wouldn’t get up every day to do this if Merit wasn’t tied to Fate.” Merit Goodness is looking to impact the community in another way going forward—through the hiring of Detroit youth.

  1. What Constitutes Community?

The communities in which these companies work are important too. Vice District Brewing Co in Chicago is a black-owned microbrewery on the South Side that attracts a diverse set of staff and customers. As Athena Stevenson said, “Vice District Brewing is providing a space for diversity and accessibility in an industry that has yet to expand its reach. Beyond beer, the tap room facilitates connections through conversation, an activity that transcends industry, income, race, and gender.” Companies like Sola Café in Bozeman, MT and Detroit S.O.A.R. also put community first and engender a tolerant, engaged, and diverse culture.

When Team RAZA arrived at Wild Idea Buffalo Company, they wondered what community this company was serving. When founder Dan O’Brien took the team far out into the Great Plains of South Dakota to admire his herd, they came to realize that this was his community of need — buffalo feeding on native and regenerative pastures. As Zach Friedman recognized, “The impact was undeniable — from the towering bison to the subtle but vital grasses on the pasture — the ecosystem was thriving. Even though a few dozen buffalo must be harvested each year, this community is stronger under Dan’s management than it would be under industrial farming operations.”

  1. How Much Work Does it Take?

A constant theme from the students is the hard work required to create and sustain a social enterprise. Many of the MBAs making the trip came from families of entrepreneurs who struggled to maintain their businesses. Entrepreneurs need to step out and dive in, in spite of the odds. As Ryan Schell put it, “(S)ocial entrepreneurship is about 10% inspiration and 90% sweat. Every task is important, no matter how small. A common quality among our entrepreneur partners was that they were in constant motion, getting stuff done.” Although the work of Ross Open Road teams was often focused on financially secure methods for maintaining long-term growth, it is the “un-measurable measurable” that keeps these entrepreneurs going.

  1. Where Does the Spark Come From?

Social entrepreneurs develop their ideas a number of different ways, but the germ of their ideas usually comes from a personal experience. Team OKRA discovered in the first week that Detroit S.O.A.R. co-founder Harriette Brown “Chef Bee” became inspired to feed people with nutritious food in her community after facing her own health issues. According to Kevin Jones, “Tracing her problems back to improper nutrition and inadequate healthy food options in her neighborhood, she made it her mission to use food to change the lives of her family, neighborhood, and those living in the food deserts in Detroit.”

Team WCKD with Sarah Ladley of Ba-Nom-A-Nom of Fort Collins, CO

Sarah Ladley, who founded Ba-Nom-A-Nom in Fort Collins, CO was also transformed by a personal experience: “When I was 13, my grandparents took me on a trip to Kenya. And as we sat in our air conditioned van traveling around the country, I witnessed adults crawling on the ground. I thought to myself, How is this fair? Why do I have what I have? I learned about polio and other health issues that people faced, and I knew that I wanted to work in health.” Her experience recovering from thyroid cancer has also had an effect on the rollout of her business, as it has forced her to place more value on work-life balance.

The work for the MBAs of Ross Open Road is to quickly learn about new businesses and identify areas for improvement, then make actionable suggestions that can actually be implemented in the near future. With the help of these students, hopefully these enterprises can succeed where others have failed, and ultimately they can transform their communities. These Ross MBAs know that they will be transformed.  To properly take in the scope of the entire experience, read the weekly blog entries from all three teams at the Ross Open Road website.  See photos of the Detroit Kickoff.

For students interested in the 2018 Ross Open Road experience, there will be information sessions at the Ross School of Business starting in December. Watch for updates on the 2018 program at the Center for Social Impact website.

Below are details of the teams and their journeys:

The teams were:

  1. Team OKRA, made up of Ozge Sahin (MBA ’18), Kevin Jones (MBA ’18), Ravi Patel (MBA ’18), and Ava Damri (MBA ’18),
  2. Team RAZA, comprised of Ryan Schell (MBA/MURP ’19), Ariana Almas (MBA ’18), Zach Friedman (MBA/MS ’19), and Athena Stevenson (MBA ’18),
  3. and Team WCKD, made up of Wiles Kase (MBA/MS ’18), Colleen Hill (MBA/MS ’19), Kenji Kaneko (MBA/MSI ’18), and Dilparinder Singh (MBA ’17).
Team OKRA with RJ Cooper in Lake Forest, CA

Team OKRA focused on tech and food enterprises:

  • Week One: Sisters on a Roll (Detroit, MI), a mobile cafe bringing food with love and soul to neighborhoods
  • Week Two: Be More Colorful (Fargo, ND), a virtual reality content management agency with a strong sense of social responsibility
  • Week Three: Sola Cafe (Bozeman, MT), a cafe and market serving locally-sourced meals and coffees that match lifestyle preferences
  • Week Four: RJ Cooper & Associates (Lake Forest, CA), creating and adapting, researching, assessing, and helping to implement special needs technology

Team RAZA worked with a clothing company and microbreweries:

  • Week One: Merit Goodness (Detroit, MI), selling high quality clothing that helps kids get to college
  • Week Two: Vice District Brewing Co. (Chicago, IL), a place for beer in an environment of diversity and inclusion on Chicago’s Southside
  • Week Three: Wild Idea Buffalo Company (Rapid City, SD), selling the meat of buffalo who are given respect, dignity and care throughout their lives
  • Week Four: Fargo Brewing Company (Fargo, ND), creating and distributing locally-sourced beer in the heartland
  • Week Five: The Golden Yoke (St. Ignatius, MT), ice cream purveyor using ingredients from Montana and Pacific Northwest farmers

Team WCKD worked with a wide range of social enterprises:

  • Week One: Detroit Training Center (Detroit, MI), providing adults with knowledge, tools, and skills to add value to their communities
  • Week Two: Gilden Tree (Omaha, NE), purveyors of body care products using envronmentally-friendly manufacturing
  • Week Three: Ba-Nom-a-Nom (Fort Collins, CO), selling dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan fruit desserts
  • Week Four: Roots of Renewal (New Orleans, LA), a community development nonprofit focused on ex-con re-entry through work on the elimination of blight
  • Week Five: J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works(Malden, WV), locally sourced salt-makers

Students are exploring social impact dreams at Ross

Ariana Almas and her MAP team with faculty advisers Jane Dutton and Michael Gordon.

MAY 15, 2017 – In an article from Poets and Quants, released today, several students were spotlighted as examples of “Rising Interest in Social Impact at Ross.” Ariana Almas’ Social Impact Challenge experience and social impact MAP project reveal an abiding interest in making a difference.  Molly Hope’s and Mary Rockas’ MAP projects helped them discover just how much business can help society.  Parker Caldwell traveled to India to work for a private company that wants to make the world a better place.  Specific details about all the students’ experiences are highlighted in the article.

Read the full article

Michigan Business Challenge Impact Track Winner Announced

Ann Arbor, February 17, 2017 – The winner of the 2017 Michigan Business Challenge – Impact Track is AIM Tech, a developer of a safe, low-power infant ventilator system for use in the developing world. The Impact Track competition, co-sponsored by the Zell Lurie Institute, the Center for Social Impact, and the Erb Institute, began in December with 61 student social entrepreneurs.  Ten semi-finalists competed on January 20 for the four finalist spots in this day’s competition.

Finalists included:

  • AIM Tech – Stephen John (MD ’19) and Aaron Steiner (MBA ’17)
    AIM Tech has a desire to improve health care options for under-served groups on a global scale through the development of safe, user-friendly, low power, and affordable equipment.
  • Find Your Ditto – Parisa Soraya (MHI ’17)
    Find Your Ditto is a mobile application that connects individuals living with chronic illness locally to on-demand, in-person support.
    Aaron Steiner (MBA ’17) and Stephen John (MD ’19) of the team AIM Tech are the winners of the 2017 Impact Track of the Michigan Business Challenge.
  • Kladder LLC – Jaymon Ballew (JD/MBA ’18)
    Kladder is an online and mobile application that connects diverse professionals and offers unique industry insights based upon the experiences of these individuals.
  • Sage & Grace – Holly Price (MBA ’17)
    Sage & Grace is a website and concierge service that educates and empowers grieving families to better, and more affordably, navigate the complications and stress of the American funeral planning process.

(Click on the links above to see interviews with each of the teams.)

AIM Tech received $15,000 for first place, Sage & Grace received $7,500 for second place, Find Your Ditto received $2,500 for third place, and Kladder received $1,000 for fourth place.

The expert judging panel for the finals was comprised of:

  • Michael Finney – Community Ventures Resources
  • Chris UhlRock Ventures
  • Lauren BigelowGrowth Capital Network

The Michigan Business Challenge is a campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition, of which the Impact Track is a subset focused on entrepreneurial student ventures focused on social  and/or environmental impact.  Of the 110 teams that began the competition last December, 61 identified as social enterprises.  The competition is open to all students of the University of Michigan, and multidisciplinary teams are encouraged. The at-large Michigan Business Challenge is sponsored by the Zell Lurie Institute, and the Impact Track is additionally co-sponsored by Zell Lurie, Business+Impact, and the Erb Institute.

Four Impact Track Teams Advance to the Finals of the Michigan Business Challenge

January 23, 2017 – Ann Arbor – Business+Impact wants to thank all the teams and judges involved in Round Two of this year’s Michigan Business Challenge – Impact Track! The competition has been very successful thus far, and the ten teams from Round Two of the Impact Track had impressive presentations. The Impact Track had a panel of three judges – Anika Goss-Foster of Detroit Future City, Cat Johnson of The Empowerment Plan, and Aaron Seybert of the Kresge Foundation.  In addition to the 4 Impact Track teams moving on, 8 other teams will compete in the main track.

Kladder presents its social platform for diverse professionals during Round Two of the Michigan Business Challenge – Impact Track.

The Impact Track finals will take place on February 17, 2017 from 12:30 – 3 pm at the Ross School of Business.  The following teams will participate there (Click on each name to find a summary of key information on them):

AIM Tech – Stephen John (MD ’19)
AIM Tech has a desire to improve health care options for underserved groups on a global scale through the development of safe, user-friendly, low power, and affordable equipment.

Find Your Ditto – Parisa Soraya (MHI’17)
Find Your Ditto is a mobile application that connects individuals living with chronic illness locally to on-demand, in-person support.

Parisa Soraya of Find Your Ditto presents her idea for generating peer support for those suffering with chronic illness.

Kladder LLC – Jaymon Ballew (JD/MBA ’18)
Kladder is an online and mobile application that connects diverse professionals and offers unique industry insights based upon the experiences of these individuals.

Sage & Grace – Holly Price (MBA ’17)
Sage & Grace is a website and concierge service that educates and empowers grieving families to better, and more affordably, navigate the complications and stress of the American funeral planning process.

The Michigan Business Challenge is a campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition where the winning team has the opportunity to win  $26,000, gain feedback from judges and expand their business network.  The competition is open to all students of the University of Michigan, and multidisciplinary teams are encouraged. The at-large Michigan Business Challenge is sponsored by the Zell Lurie Institute, and the Impact Track is co-sponsored by Zell Lurie, Business+Impact, and the Erb Institute.

Center for Social Impact and UM-Flint to Collaborate on Flint Challenge

2017 Social Impact Challenge to Address Economic Development in Flint

ANN ARBOR, MI – JAN. 4, 2017 — The sixth annual Social Impact Challenge will take place in Flint, MI and is presented as a partnership between the Ross School of Business’ Center for Social Impact in Ann Arbor and UM-Flint’s Office of University Outreach. As Flint looks toward a post-water-crisis future, the 2017 Social Impact Challenge will look at how to advance entrepreneurship efforts in Flint to revive neighborhood centers and city corridors for economic development.

Business+Impact has hosted previous challenges in Detroit, partnering with civic, community and nonprofit organizations to tackle pressing strategic issues in the urban environment. In 2016, students tackled strategic and operational questions to help launch Detroit PAL‘s Kids At the Corner Campaign in partnership with the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, which involved the redevelopment of the historic field.

In 2017, in addition to the partnership between the two University of Michigan campuses, teams will be working with community partners the City of Flint, the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce and Skypoint Ventures—a venture capital and real estate company with strong social impact ties.

“It exciting to move the challenge to Flint this year, where so much is going on, but where there is also so much potential,” says Glenn Bugala, Marketing Manager for Business+Impact.

Paula Nas, Interim Director of University Outreach at UM-Flint says, “The opportunity to partner with the Ann Arbor campus on meaningful social change in our city is very exciting. We look forward to having ongoing dialogue between the campuses on Flint’s future.”

Student teams will be presented with a case statement and will work together to find solutions that will be implemented on the ground in Flint through the partner organizations. In addition to being able to create interdisciplinary teams, this year students will be able to create teams from students at both campuses.  The winning team will receive $2,500 and the opportunity to put their plan into practice during the coming months.

There are a number of events between January and March. Students will meet with UM-Flint Outreach in Flint on January 18th and in Ann Arbor on January 24th to kick-off this exciting event. On Friday, January 27, all participants will have a site visit in Flint with key stakeholders and U-M. Students must register their teams for the Challenge by Tuesday, February 7th. On Wednesday, March 15th in Flint, the final pitches and the winning team will be presented. There will also be special speakers and events surrounding the Challenge on that day.

For further information on this event, check with Business+Impact online at https://businessimpact.umich.edu or with UM-Flint Outreach at http://www.umflint.edu/outreach.  Ongoing updates throughout the challenge will be available on Twitter with the hashtag #MSIC17.

About Business+Impact: Business+Impact provides students support and opportunities to design a pathway to become social impact leaders. Students in the Center’s programs collaborate with mission-driven organizations across sectors to develop innovative solutions to pressing social challenges.

About UM-Flint’s Office of University Outreach: University Outreach connects campus and community to support learning, collaboration and partnerships. The office is guided by justice and fairness, healthy relationships, community building, economic vitality, and service.